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Renewable / Alternative Energy Renewable / Alternative Energy
Renewable / Alternative EnergyRenewable energy is energy generated from natural resources, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides and geothermal heat - energy derived from sources that do not use up natural resources or harm the environment. Another term commonly used is alternative energy, which refers to energy generated from sources that have no undesired consequences such as fossil fuels or nuclear energy.

Most of the forms of renewable energies depend in one way or another on sunlight. Wind and hydroelectric power are the direct result of differential heating of the Earth's surface which leads to air moving about (wind) and precipitation forming as the air is lifted. Solar energy is the direct conversion of sunlight using panels or collectors. Biomass energy is stored sunlight contained in plants. Other renewable energies that do not depend on sunlight are geothermal energy, which is a result of radioactive decay in the crust combined with the original heat of accreting the Earth, and tidal energy, which is a conversion of gravitational energy.

Renewable energy sources are most commonly found as the following sources;

Solar Energy
This form of energy relies on the nuclear fusion power from the core of the Sun. This energy can be collected and converted in a few different ways. The range is from solar water heating with solar collectors or attic cooling with solar attic fans for domestic use to the complex technologies of direct conversion of sunlight to electrical energy using mirrors and boilers or photovoltaic cells. Unfortunately these are currently insufficient to fully power our modern society.

Wind Energy
The movement of the atmosphere is driven by differences of temperature at the Earth's surface due to varying temperatures of the Earth's surface when lit by sunlight. Wind energy can be used to pump water or generate electricity, but requires extensive areal coverage to produce significant amounts of energy.

Hydroelectric Energy
This form uses the gravitational potential of elevated water that was lifted from the oceans by sunlight. It is not strictly speaking renewable since all reservoirs eventually fill up and require very expensive excavation to become useful again. At this time, most of the available locations for hydroelectric dams are already used in the developed world.

Biomass Energy
Biomass is the term for energy from plants. Energy in this form is very commonly used throughout the world. Unfortunately the most popular is the burning of trees for cooking and warmth. This process releases copious amounts of carbon dioxide gases into the atmosphere and is a major contributor to unhealthy air in many areas. Some of the more modern forms of biomass energy are methane generation and production of alcohol for automobile fuel and fueling electric power plants.

Geothermal Energy
Energy left over from the original accretion of the planet and augmented by heat from radioactive decay seeps out slowly everywhere, everyday. In certain areas the geothermal gradient (increase in temperature with depth) is high enough to exploit to generate electricity. This possibility is limited to a few locations on Earth and many technical problems exist that limit its utility. Another form of geothermal energy is Earth energy, a result of the heat storage in the Earth's surface. Soil everywhere tends to stay at a relatively constant temperature, the yearly average, and can be used with heat pumps to heat a building in winter and cool a building in summer. This form of energy can lessen the need for other power to maintain comfortable temperatures in buildings, but cannot be used to produce electricity.

Hydrogen and fuel cells.
These are also not strictly renewable energy resources but are very abundant in availability and are very low in pollution when utilized. Hydrogen can be burned as a fuel, typically in a vehicle, with only water as the combustion product. This clean burning fuel can mean a significant reduction of pollution in cities. Or the hydrogen can be used in fuel cells, which are similar to batteries, to power an electric motor. In either case significant production of hydrogen requires abundant power. Due to the need for energy to produce the initial hydrogen gas, the result is the relocation of pollution from the cities to the power plants. There are several promising methods to produce hydrogen, such as solar power, that may alter this picture drastically.

Other forms of energy
Energy from tides, the oceans and hot hydrogen fusion are other forms that can be used to generate electricity. Each of these is discussed in some detail with the final result being that each suffers from one or another significant drawback and cannot be relied upon at this time to solve the upcoming energy crunch.

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NREL: Dynamic Maps, GIS Data and Analysis Tools - Visualization & Geospatial Tools

National Renewable Energy Laboratory's (NREL) Geospatial Data Science Team have developed tools that allow users to determine things such as how much electricity can be produced from solar systems on a house or what renewable resources are available in a specific area. The most current list of available NREL's GIS tools for biomass, solar, geothermal, wind, transportation and hydrogen can be accessed here.




BioDiesel Retail Location Finder

Biodiesel is a clean-burning replacement for petroleum diesel that can be used in virtually any diesel engine without modification. Biodiesel is produced from a variety of domestically available, renewable sources including vegetable oil, biomass (such as wood chips) and animal fats. It acts like diesel fuel, but produces fewer harmful emissions, is biodegradable and nontoxic, and is safer to use the diesel fuel.
Find a biodiesel retail location in your area »




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Once limited to consumers with deep pockets and strong environmentalist values, solar panels are less expensive than ever.

Read More »


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Use of renewable energy resources provides a significant opportunity to reduce the environmental footprint of activities conducted during investigation, remediation, and monitoring of hazardous waste sites. Substitution of energy from fossil fuel resources with energy from renewable resources is a primary approach for addressing energy as one of the five core elements of green remediation strategies. In turn, lower consumption of fossil fuel will reduce emission of greenhouse gases (GH).

Read More »


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Building operation and maintenance programs specifically designed to enhance operating efficiency of HVAC and lighting systems can save 5 to 20 percent of the energy bills without significant capital investment. The U.S. EPA and U.S. DOE want to help commercial building owners capture these savings. The 15 Best Practices described in this booklet are strategies that facility managers, energy managers and property managers can use to integrate energy-efficient operation into their organizations’ O&M programs and to obtain support from senior management.

Read More »


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Landscaping doesn't only add beauty to your home, but it can also improve your home's comfort and lower your energy bills.

Read More »


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Simple and inexpensive actions can help you save energy and money during the cool fall and winter months.

Read More »


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You can reduce air conditioning energy use by 20-50 percent by switching to high-efficiency air conditioners and taking other actions to lower your home cooling costs.

Read More »


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A home energy audit helps you pinpoint where your house is losing energy and what you can do to save money. A home energy audit will also assess health and safety issues that might exist in your home.

Read More »


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A home energy assessment (sometimes referred to as an energy audit) will show what parts of your house use the most energy and suggest the best ways to cut energy costs. You can conduct a simple home energy assessment by doing it yourself (DIY) or, for a more detailed assessment, contact your local utility or an energy auditor.

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Austin Energy's Residential Solar Photovoltaic "PV" Rebate Program is designed to help implement customer-owned, grid-tied, PV technology by offering financial incentives that offset the initial investment. By implementing PV technology, residential customers help the City of Austin reduce the need to generate additional power, lower long-term investment costs for new electric facilities, and also enhance our city's environment.

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Although the state does not have a tax exemption program at this time that provides funding of renewable energy equipment on an individual basis, there are a few allowable tax exemptions and deductions.

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In an effort to reduce demands on conventional fossil fuel based energy sources the City of Sunset Valley is offering a solar water heater rebate to homeowners.

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In an effort to reduce demands on conventional fossil fuel based energy sources the City of Sunset Valley is offering a solar energy conservation program to homeowners.  Solar energy systems create clean energy with no emissions.  Using solar energy to generate 1 kilowatt of power is equivalent to planting 50 trees.

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The City of Plano established this loan program through the Department of Energy, in conjunction with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This fund supports affordable energy efficiency loans to Plano homeowners.

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A major player in the energy industry, Texas is the country's largest producer of energy and is the only state with its own power grid. It also leads the nation in wind power generation, with more than twice the installed capacity of the second best state for wind, California.

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The state has built upon its energy experience and trained workforce to take the lead in renewable energy production and services. As a result, Texas has become the top state in wind generation capacity and biodiesel production.

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Renewable energy policies generally have assumed that forests can provide a significant source of environmentally-friendly feedstocks for electricity, heat and power generation. Resistance is emerging, however, from those who fear society’s ravenous push for renewable energy solutions will lead to destructive overharvesting of forests with no net gain in GHG reduction. Policymakers face many obstacles moving forward, particularly in developing timely GHG policies in the face of scientific uncertainty on the lifecycle GHG emissions of various forest practices. Policymakers also must confront biodiversity loss and decreased soil and water quality resulting from the lack of sustainable forest management (SFM) policies. 
 
Bioenergy and forest management policy, therefore, must quickly evolve to address environmental sustainability with the urgency necessary to keep pace with renewable energy demand, and within novel future forest landscapes. Sustainability precedents exist in voluntary niche markets through application of private standards. In the U.S. however, large volumes of forests are under private ownership and remain uncertified; state forest management policies vary from state-to-state. European and international forest policy suffer from vagueness and lack of properly functioning governance. Private certification standards are increasingly referenced in bioenergy policies, but not all programs are viewed by environmental groups as equal. Unless governments can apply SFM effectively to forest-to-energy feedstocks, their role in helping meet ambitious bioenergy targets will be severely limited.
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What is an Energy Efficient Mortgage?
Energy efficient mortgages (EEMs, sometimes known as “green mortgages”) are loans that allow homeowners to finance energy-efficient upgrades for their current home or in a new home purchase.  The cost of the upgrades is rolled into the mortgage so that multiple loans are not needed. 

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This guide offers a path for local landowners to earn additional income while helping diminish adverse effects of global climate change through implementation of carbon sequestration and other stackable incentives. This document is a tool to help landowners make the decision whether or not to enroll their land in carbon sequestration. It discusses background information on carbon sequestration and global climate change; current methods of sequestration, including forestry, conservation planting, methane capture and others; and steps a land owner must take, including contracts, verification, and implementation, once they have made the decision to enroll their lands in a sequestration project.

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These voluntary Guidelines provide a structured, scientific process for addressing wildlife conservation concerns at all stages of land-based wind energy development. They also promote effective communication among wind  energy developers and federal, state, and local conservation agencies and tribes. When used in concert with  appropriate regulatory tools, the Guidelines form the best practical approach for conserving species of concern. The Guidelines have been developed by the Interior Department’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) working with the Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee.

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Renewable / Alternative Energy Green Building
Renewable / Alternative Energy What Is Green Building?
Green buildings are sited, designed, constructed, and operated to enhance the well-being of their occupants and support a healthy community and natural environment. In practical terms, green building is a whole-systems-approach to building that includes:
  • Designing for livable communities
  • Using sun and site to the building's advantage for natural heating, cooling, and daylighting
  • Landscaping with native, drought-resistant plants and water-efficient practices
  • Building quality, durable structures
  • Reducing and recycling construction and demolition waste
  • Insulating well and ventilating appropriately
  • Incorporating durable, salvaged, recycled, and sustainably harvested materials
  • Using healthy products and building practices
  • Using energy-efficient and water-saving appliances, fixtures and technologies
More than just a fad, building green has rapidly become an industry trend.

McGraw Hill's new 2013 Dodge Construction Green Outlook report shows green building in the United States accelerated to 44 percent of all 2012 commercial and institutional construction and expected to be 55 percent by 2016. Green home and renovation was about half that at 20 percent in 2012 and expected to reach 38 percent by 2016.

Some of the other statistics in the report briefly are:
  • the green building value is rising from $10 billion in 2005 to $78 billion in 2011; expected at $85 billion in 2012, between $98 billion and $106 billion by 2013, and projected to reach $204 billion to $248 billion by 2016
  • by 2016, one third of all United States home builders expect to be "fully dedicated" to building green
  • 35 percent of construction jobs are green today
  • 81 percent of corporate executive leaders think the public expects them to be into sustainability and that is one of the main reasons corporations are making green efforts
  • 30 percent of senior executive officers say they are greening two-thirds of their buildings
  • 47 percent of senior executive officers expect to green their buildings by 2015

Building green aims to maximize the efficiency with which buildings use resources such as energy, water, and materials — while reducing building impacts on human health and the environment.

Learn more about Green Building Learn more about Green Building


By:

Once limited to consumers with deep pockets and strong environmentalist values, solar panels are less expensive than ever.

Read More »


By:

Landscaping doesn't only add beauty to your home, but it can also improve your home's comfort and lower your energy bills.

Read More »


By:

You can reduce air conditioning energy use by 20-50 percent by switching to high-efficiency air conditioners and taking other actions to lower your home cooling costs.

Read More »


By:

A home energy audit helps you pinpoint where your house is losing energy and what you can do to save money. A home energy audit will also assess health and safety issues that might exist in your home.

Read More »


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Green buildings are designed, constructed, and operated to enhance the well-being of their occupants and support a healthy community and natural environment.

Read More »

Renewable / Alternative Energy Home Improvements
Whether or not you are concerned about the state of world energy supplies or global warming, energy savings pay. For example, the U.S. Department of Energy says that families who have received weatherization services see their annual energy bills reduced by an average of about $437, depending on fuel prices.

Because the energy improvements that make up weatherization services are long lived, the savings add up over time to substantial benefits for weatherization clients and their communities, and the nation as a whole. Plus, a lot of weatherization may be undertaken as a do-it-yourself project.

There are also many ways to use water more efficiently in the home. For example, fixing a silent toilet leak may save as much as 500 gallons per day. Installing high efficiency plumbing fixtures and appliances can help a typical family of four reduce indoor water use by one-third, save about $95 per year on their water and sewer bill, and cut energy use by as much as six percent.

The following are common sense ideas for helping to save energy and water in your home or buildings.

  • The U.S. EPA provides a downloadable Residential Energy Efficiency program that can be used to develop effective ways of reducing home energy consumption.
  • EPA also provides a list of common sense practices for conserving energy in your home.
  • Stop Water Leaks. Replace your old Toilet, the largest water user inside your home.If your home was built before 1992 and the toilet has never been replaced, then it is very likely that you do not have a water efficient 1.6 gallon per flush toilet.
  • Replace your Clothes Washer, the second largest water user in your home. Energy Star™ rated washers that also have a Water Factor at or lower than 9.5, use 35-50% less water and 50% less energy per load. This saves you money on both your water and energy bills.
  • Plant the Right Plants with proper landscape design and irrigation. Native plants are usually more adapted to local conditions and require less maintenance and irrigation.
  • Water Only What Your Plants Need. Make sure your irrigation controller has a rain shutoff device and that it's appropriately scheduled. Most water is wasted in months prior to or just after the rainy season when intermittent rains occur. You can also consider installing a weather adjusting ET irrigation controller (see description in glossary) that automatically saves water by not watering when the plants don't need the water.
Renewable / Alternative Energy Facts About Your Home
Renewable / Alternative Energy
Water:
  • Older toilets use 3.7 to 7.0 gallons per flush
  • Dishwashers use 8-14 gallons per cycle
  • Top-loading washers use 45 gallons per load
  • A dripping faucet wastes 15-21 gallons per day
  • US water users withdraw enough water to fill a line of Olympic-size swimming pools reaching around the world EVERY DAY (300 billion gallons)
  • Although our planet is 71 percent water, humans depend on a mere 0.65 percent of the water for survival – much of which is polluted.
  • An estimated 7 million Americans are made sick annually by contaminated tap water
Indoor Air Quality:
  • US EPA ranks indoor air pollution among top five environmental risks. Unhealthy air is found in up to 30% of new and renovated buildings
  • W.H.O. reports that indoor air pollution causes 14 times more deaths than outdoor air pollution (2.8 million lives)
  • Of hundreds of EPA-regulated chemicals, only ozone and sulfur dioxide are more prevalent outdoor than indoors
  • 20 percent of all housing in the US has too much lead dust or chippings (causes kidney and red blood cell damage, impairs mental and physical development, may increase high blood pressure)
Wood:
  • Although the US is home to only 4.5 percent of the global population, it is responsible for over 15 percent of the world’s consumption of wood.
Learn more about Energy Efficiency Learn more about Energy Efficiency


By:

Landscaping doesn't only add beauty to your home, but it can also improve your home's comfort and lower your energy bills.

Read More »


By:

You can reduce air conditioning energy use by 20-50 percent by switching to high-efficiency air conditioners and taking other actions to lower your home cooling costs.

Read More »

Renewable / Alternative Energy Best Management Practices
Best Management Practices, or BMPs, can help improve energy efficiency. Developed by experienced practitioners or management and research organizations, they are based upon the best available science.

The following are a selection of BMPs culled from various national, regional, state and local sources. Each is available for download as a pdf.


By:

Use of renewable energy resources provides a significant opportunity to reduce the environmental footprint of activities conducted during investigation, remediation, and monitoring of hazardous waste sites. Substitution of energy from fossil fuel resources with energy from renewable resources is a primary approach for addressing energy as one of the five core elements of green remediation strategies. In turn, lower consumption of fossil fuel will reduce emission of greenhouse gases (GH).

Read More »


By:

Building operation and maintenance programs specifically designed to enhance operating efficiency of HVAC and lighting systems can save 5 to 20 percent of the energy bills without significant capital investment. The U.S. EPA and U.S. DOE want to help commercial building owners capture these savings. The 15 Best Practices described in this booklet are strategies that facility managers, energy managers and property managers can use to integrate energy-efficient operation into their organizations’ O&M programs and to obtain support from senior management.

Read More »


By:

Landscaping doesn't only add beauty to your home, but it can also improve your home's comfort and lower your energy bills.

Read More »


By:

Simple and inexpensive actions can help you save energy and money during the cool fall and winter months.

Read More »


By:

You can reduce air conditioning energy use by 20-50 percent by switching to high-efficiency air conditioners and taking other actions to lower your home cooling costs.

Read More »


By:

A home energy audit helps you pinpoint where your house is losing energy and what you can do to save money. A home energy audit will also assess health and safety issues that might exist in your home.

Read More »


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This is an article from the EPA site about anaerobic/biomass recovery systems.  Click here to read the information: 

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A 293 page guide to the Legal Issues in Farming the Wind on your farm from June 2007 Read More »


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This EPA factsheet gives information on trends in use of these manure management systems in the U.S. Read More »


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These voluntary Guidelines provide a structured, scientific process for addressing wildlife conservation concerns at all stages of land-based wind energy development. They also promote effective communication among wind  energy developers and federal, state, and local conservation agencies and tribes. When used in concert with  appropriate regulatory tools, the Guidelines form the best practical approach for conserving species of concern. The Guidelines have been developed by the Interior Department’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) working with the Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee.

Read More »

BMPs oriented more specifically toward farming & agriculture, wildlife habitat and invasive & native species are also available on this site.

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